In the movie Cinema Paradiso, there is an allegory told which underpins the movie. It also applies, too well, to the process of innovation and entrepreneurship:
Once upon a time a king gave a feast and there were all the most beautiful princesses of the realm. Basta, one of the guards, saw the king's daughter: she was the loveliest of all! And he immediately fell in love with her. But what could a poor soldier do compared with a king's daughter?!...One day he managed to meet her and told her he couldn't live without her. The princess was so struck by the depth of his feeling that she said to the soldier 'If you will wait a hundred days and a hundred nights beneath my balcony, then in the end I'll be yours.' Christ, the soldier ran off there and waited! One day, two days, ten, twenty...Every night she looked out of her window, but he never budged. Come rain, wind, snow, never budged! The birds shat on him and the bees ate him alive! After ninety nights he was gaunt and pale and tears streamed from his eyes but he couldn't hold them back. He didn't even have the strength to sleep any more. The princess kept watch...And on the ninety-ninth night, the soldier got up, picked up his chair and left!
and towards the end of the film...
Now I understand why the soldier went away just before the end. That's right, just one more night and the princess would have been his. But she, also, could not have kept her promise. And...that would have been terrible, he would have died from it. So instead, for ninety-nine nights at least he had lived with the illusion that she was there waiting for him...
This story resonated with our experiences working with innovators and entrepreneurs. Particularly following the recent activities of our students, noted in this blog.
It's tempting to sit on a bench and dream of a better world, but better worlds don't come to those who are unwilling or afraid to put their dreams to the test. They come to those who are willing to ask the questions and do the work.
*The story is one taken, with liberties, from the Noh play Kayoi Komachi, which tells how Ono no Komachi finds herself the object of a Guard Captain's ardent love. To prove his love, she requested, he was to visit her house one hundred successive nights before being admitted. For 99 nights, he faithfully visited her, only to die of exposure from a snowstorm the last night. In both cases, the tragedy remains.